Kate Bush is to make her second tribute to Emily Brontë, providing words for a permanent art installation on the wiley, windy moors that inspired Wuthering Heights.
Bush will join the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, the Scottish makar, or national poet, Jackie Kay and the novelist Jeanette Winterson in a summer project celebrating the Brontë sisters. All four have been commissioned to write a piece of poetry or prose which will then be engraved on stones positioned over the eight-mile route between the sisters’ birthplace and the family parsonage.
Winterson will celebrate the Brontë legacy as a whole, Duffy will celebrate Charlotte, Kay has Anne and Bush has Emily.
The Brontë stones project takes place in the bicentenary year of Emily’s birth and, appropriately, the 40th anniversary year of Bush’s Wuthering Heights, the mindblowing song she released when she was just 18 years old.
Bush said she was delighted to be involved in the project. “Each sister being remembered by a stone in the enigmatic landscape where they lived and worked is a striking idea.
“Emily only wrote the one novel – an extraordinary work of art that has truly left its mark. To be asked to write a piece for Emily’s stone is an honour and, in a way, a chance to say thank you to her.”
The writers have been commissioned by Bradford literature festival, which will unveil the stones in July.
Getting Bush involved is a real coup. While not, in her words, the “weirdo recluse” she is sometimes portrayed as, Bush avoids the limelight. She rarely gives interviews. When, out of the blue, she announced a series of live shows in 2014, her first for 35 years, the news made headlines around the world.
The festival’s director, Syima Aslam, said Bush had been approached with a degree of trepidation. “We saw it as such a good fit, but equally we were, ‘she might just say no’. But you won’t know unless you ask … and she said yes, which was tremendously exciting.”
The stones project is the only way Bush will be marking the 40th anniversary of her song.
Aslam said the Charlotte stone will be at the house where the Brontës, including their wayward brother Branwell, were born in the village of Thornton. Anne’s stone will be in a meadow beside the parsonage in Haworth, now the Brontë Parsonage Museum, where the family grew up. The Emily and Brontë legacy stones will be in the landscape.
Putting the Emily stone on the wild and exposed moors was not a difficult decision to take. “There was no other way of doing it,” said Aslam. “I remember a long time ago being laughed at by a friend as we were driving through the moors and I said, ‘It’s all so bleak, it reminds me of Wuthering Heights’. She just looked at me and laughed.”
Aslam said it had been important to get a northern writer to celebrate the Brontë legacy and was thrilled that Winterson said yes.
Winterson recalled growing up in Lancashire and roaming the hills in the rain and feeling both passionate and misunderstood. “I read the Brontës and felt their spirit stand by me,” she said. “The Brontës showed me that hearts beat like mine, that the struggle to know who you are happens across time and generations, and gender.
“They showed me that writing needs the power of the personal behind it – but that somehow the story one person tells has to become a story many people can claim as their own. And the Brontës are women. As a woman I needed those ancestors, those guides. I still do.”
Aslam said the calibre of the writers was important. “It has just been perfect. I could not have asked for anything more. These are writers who will be remembered. As much as the stones will be a way in to the work of the Brontës, they will also be a way into these writers as well.”
Michael Stewart, who lives in Thornton, came up with the idea in 2013. He said he had long wanted “my village to receive recognition for its place in the Brontë story … It’s fantastic to see the project come to fruition”.
Stewart will lead a guided walk between Thornton and Haworth, titled In the Footsteps of the Brontës, on 8 July. The day before, Duffy, Kay and Winterson will be in Bradford to inaugurate the stones and read their words.
Powered by WPeMatico